Although most people have experienced significant difficulties in their lives, few are as severe as the current business climate. You may doubt your abilities and confidence, or feel some doubts about areas that were only possible six months ago. These concerns do not only concern our businesses, but also our personal retirement plans, investments, futures, and our children’s futures.
Whom should you put your trust?
I don’t care what party you are, I think everyone is wondering if or when the government will change. Do you feel secure with so much of the potential success of our country being in the hands past and present of decision-makers that have allegedly violated your trust? I don’t just mean Government, but also the Financial Community as well as leaders of large Corporations.
How do you imagine your employees feeling about the same issues? Survey data from 2008 clearly shows that younger employees come to work feeling disillusioned with their leadership. Recent studies that took place before the crisis show that around 60% of employees do NOT trust senior management. This is a trend we can only assume will continue.
Now, let’s talk about what a leader should do.
It doesn’t matter if you run a small company or a large corporation. The challenges ahead of you are unimaginable. Before discussing the various techniques to rebuild and maintain trust, the first thing we must do is change our attitudes as leaders.
Be aware that your employees will be more interested in your actions than you are in our words. In recent meetings, most of us have extolled the virtues of our internal team members. Leaders have become “cheerleaders” as they try to rally the troops and reassure their key personnel. They also continue to push for greater solutions for our clients and members with less staff or budget. It is possible to suggest that the words are inadequate when we consider the impact of our real attitudes, and more importantly our actions. There is no better time than now to “Walk the Walk”. Consider two options that I would respectfully recommend.
Accept vs. Agree
Many of us are not CEOs. We are often caught in the middle, between Mahogany Row (main street) and Mahogany Row (main street), even though our leaders are not all of us. It is our job to communicate with confidence and make cuts, even Jason Hare though we might be pondering the future.
This is a simple way to maintain trust and genuine empathy with your employees. We must be vigilant to ensure the integrity of our organization’s position. This is especially important for Gen X and Millennial employees.
The fine line between “Accepting”, the concerns and issues that employees raise is very different from “Agreeing” with the elements and doubts that can quickly undermine the organization’s culture. If an employee asks for help, the response is “I can really understand your frustration,” which is quite different from “Those at the top are not clueless, they are constantly changing their minds
Leaders need empathy. Perhaps more so with younger employees than Boomer and Traditionalist leaders. Your leadership actions or mistrust of leaders can lead to a loss of influence. Your personal credibility as a Middle Manager has disappeared and it will be very difficult for you to regain it. You’ll be scrutinized in a very jaded way when you attempt to communicate a policy shift or cultural change, regardless of whether it is positive. This will impact your effectiveness in ways you may not realize. Trust is the key ingredient that makes it difficult to trust others.
Continue employee development or increase
Today’s young employees are highly impatient. Novations Study 2008 shows that 77% Millennials decide whether or not they will stay within six months of starting work. In order to encourage our employees and provide encouragement during difficult times, we must be consistent with our policies, actions, and decisions.
Employees will view organizations that have cut back on training or development programs as hypocritical. Their employees will perceive them as being more responsible than they might be. Because many companies have made cuts in their personnel, it is vital to reach out and hug those still employed for the increase in work load. We thank them verbally for their efforts. Then we eliminate any training that could improve their development. Metaphorically we say how much we value them and then we remove the coffee maker. What is our true message?
This is a very shortsighted approach. Only a fraction is spent on training and developing employees to increase trust, engagement, and the real cost of lower engagement and trust. Employees are not able to trust the words we speak, they see them as rhetoric. Is it possible to blame them? Our actions speak louder than our words and have greater credibility. Our attitudes determine how we act. People follow our example by how they act.
So, what does a Leader do to lead? Let’s lead! You will be able to prevail with the same mindset and attitude for success you used in solving the problems that our clients and their customers faced every day. But, I want you to remember to: Lead with Positive Activities